EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has set Mark L. Smith to write the script for the R-rated Star Trek movie that was hatched from an idea by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino wants to direct the film, which he’ll produce with JJ Abrams. That means that a writer whose breakthrough came on one of the most celebrated spare dialogue films of recent years will team with Tarantino, a writer/director whose own scripts have run run 165 pages or more, full of dialogue. Smith became a favorite of both Paramount and Abrams after he scripted Overlord, the Julius Avery-directed Bad Robot-produced WWII thriller about two American soldiers caught behind enemy lines on D-Day.
Deadline revealed the Tarantino Star Trek project last month, and then earlier this month that Smith, Lindsey Beer, Drew Pearce and Megan Amram took part in a writer’s room with Tarantino. Smith was viewed as frontrunner for the job and Paramount closed his writing deal today. The movie is a daring one on several fronts, especially since there was a promise made to Tarantino by Paramount and Abrams that this Star Trek will carry the R rating, same as all the films Tarantino has directed.
It gives Paramount a shot at reviving a branded franchise, and broadening the universe with an R rating that certainly worked with the X-Men spinoff Deadpool that became the biggest R rated film ever with a $783 million global gross. It offers all kinds of storytelling opportunities, and the opportunity to make a scary space movie like the Ridley Scott-directed Alien. Tarantino is a big fan of the original Gene Roddenberry series.
Smith will write while Tarantino focuses on his next film, about the Manson summer of 1969, which Sony acquired. Tarantino has asked I, Tonya‘s Margot Robbie to play Sharon Tate, and Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt have also met with the filmmaker about roles. The film begins production next spring for an August 9, 2019 release date that falls on the 50th anniversary of the murder of Tate and several others at the hands of Manson’s acolytes.
Smith is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Syndicate Entertainment.
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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.